Tander disappointed by Walkinshaw departure
Garth Tander has expressed his disappointment at being dropped by Walkinshaw Racing for next season just days after scoring a breakthrough win at the Wilson Security Sandown 500.
Tander was notified at midday yesterday by team boss Ryan Walkinshaw that his 12-year tenure at the Clayton operation will end this year.
The 39-year-old is the longest serving driver at Walkinshaw Racing in a period that saw him win the 2007 Supercars title (HSV Dealer Team) and record two Bathurst 1000 victories (2009, 2011 for the HRT) among 50 race wins and 74 podiums.
Tander admits he was shocked by the way the decision was made but says the announcement hasn’t dampened his desire to continue in Supercars.
“My immediate reaction is that I’m obviously disappointed with that decision,” Tander told Speedcafe.com.
“I was told at midday yesterday that I was no longer required, so I’m just disappointed.
“I’m pretty good at being able to read body language for the last couple of months, but the way yesterday went down was a little bit disappointing.
“It’s the end of nine years as a factory Holden driver. There has been a lot of success over that journey and a lot of disappointment, but I will look back on that period with fond memories.
“It is quite ironic that the first time I’m back at the factory after winning the Sandown 500 I’m told that I’m no longer required so that is part of the disappointment.
“But what we proved on the weekend, what we are capable of doing when the car is up to scratch and Warren Luff was part of that.
“I said on Sunday that when I had a car that was capable of running with them, that we still can and we showed it on the weekend.”
Tander has remained coy regarding his future next season but is confident he will be on the grid in 2017.
The 2007 Supercars champion has been linked to a return to Garry Rogers Motorsport, where he began his Supercars career in 1998, as a contender for DJR Team Penske-bound Scott McLaughlin’s vacant seat.
“I’ve raced all my life and that is something I really enjoy doing and will continue to do,” added Tander.
“The desire and the passion is still there and this announcement doesn’t change anything in that regard.
“I’m just looking forward to Bathurst and what will happen in the future will play out in the fullness of time.
“I’m reasonably confident I know the direction I am headed in and this morning doesn’t change that.
“I have had a lot of incoming phone calls in the last week and half and that has been quite flattering.
“I will be racing next year and I know I was being a bit short in the press conference but I will be racing.
“I have always tested myself against quality opposition and not hiding and Supercar racing is still the pinnacle in Australia and I want to continue to test myself.”
Proud of his achievements with the Clayton outfit, Tander says the 2011 Bathurst win alongside Nick Percat will remain his most treasured highlight.
“The victory in 2011 with Nick (Percat) which came in a massive transition for the business and having success and being part of that will stand out the most,” he added.
“I spent quite a bit of time with Nick mentoring him and took the decision very early to share the car with him as a rookie and to have success with that is obviously a highlight.
“There is a lot on-track stuff but I am pretty proud of the off-track stuff we have achieved and the relationships that have formed over that time.
“I have a lot friends there and that will continue.”